Beth Ahern, Gardener:
My favorite part of my job is having the children come in, or adults, and just get excited about gardening and having them start gardening at home. Just a small container, if you’re living in an apartment or a little small yard. Anything to just get them started in gardening is absolutely my goal here.
What types of plants can you find in a garden?
A perennial is a plant that comes back year to year. So it’s one that you can plant in the ground. I have this Japanese anemone here that is a perennial. It comes back from year to year. It doesn’t die in the winter. So you just cut it [the plant] back and it comes back every year and you’ll have that plant in your garden for as long as you want.
An annual is one, like the petunias or the colias where they just bloom one season, and then they’re done in the fall. The frost will kill them and they’ll be gone.
And tropical plants are plants that live in warm weather climates that don’t generally live here [at the U.S. Botanic Gardens] for the winter.
This is a banana plant. I have several, like, I have my little banana grove here. It’s a tropical plant that I leave in all year. It actually dies back, pretty much 3 feet to the ground and it comes back in the spring.
What can you do in the U.S. Botanic Children’s Garden?
In the Children’s Garden, we provide plants for the children to plant and this is a marigold. The plants that you see around here, the children have planted in the past week. And what they do, they just take a little garden tool, and they dig. And you just set it down in the ground and put it in.
I also try to find a lot of the easy plants for them [kids] to see and take a look at, especially vegetables, so they can kinda get an idea if they want to grow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes at home is very easy for them to grow. Anything like that is simple, beans, are easy for them to grow and watch through the summer.